Pitch Safety

Safety at pitches is not just restricted to the methods by which it is rigged and climbed. The first safety measures should be taken before you even get to the pitch head. Below I have itemised some of the safety measures that should be observed if you are to keep yourself and others out of potentially fatal trouble.

  1. Is it safe to approach the pitch head? Be aware of sloping rock, slippery rock, loose stones, trailing ropes or fast moving water that could make you lose your footing.
  2. Is there a bolt placed so you can clip in a cow's tail while you are working at the pitch head? If there is an anchor, place a bolt in it and use it.
  3. Are the people behind you safe? People that are not directly involved in rigging or climbing the pitch should keep well back, taking care not to dislodge any loose rocks or equipment lying around, and only approaching the pitch when it is their turn to climb.
  4. Is the equipment safe? Any equipment that is not being used should be securely placed where it cannot be dislodged by accident, even if it means placing it 50m back from the pitch head to get it away from a slope. Preferably, it should be attached to solid rock so that it cannot be removed except by deliberate action.
  5. Is the equipment that you are handling secure? It is good practice to try and always have one end of any equipment clipped to a secure point, be it a bolt or your belt. If you do drop it, it cannot then fall down the pitch.
  6. Is the pitch bottom clear? Do not do any juggling with equipment if there are people at the pitch bottom. Tell them to get out of the way of any potential missiles that may come down the pitch.
  7. If you are at the bottom of a pitch, are you clear of the drop area of any falling objects? Remember that falling objects are likely to bounce and ricochet, flying off horizontally at the bottom for long distances. After descending, get away from the pitch as soon as possible. When ascending, only approach when it is your turn to climb.
  8. If anything does fall down the pitch, you must shout "BELOW!" immediately, even if you think that there is no-one down there: they could have got there from another entrance. It is a good reflex action to build up, although if you are careful, you should never have the opportunity to build it up!
Graham Christian